Pandemic Pets

My blogging friend David Miller from https://millerswindmill.wordpress.com/ sent me this article from America. He thought that I might be interested in it, and I was.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/inflation-hitting-americas-90-million-pet-owners-hard-need-help

That got me thinking about the recent issue of ‘Pandemic Pets’ here in Britain. From the Spring of 2020 until the end of 2021, pet ownership exploded in the UK. People forced to stay at home because of lockdowns, or working from home permanently due to changes in working practices decided that what they needed in their lives was a pet.

But they didn’t think it through.

Pets need a lot of attention.
Dogs need regular exercise.
All pets need food, beds, leads, collars, toys, and some need cages and straw.
They also need to have innoculations, worming, regular health checks, and in some cases, medication or surgery.

The bills start to mount up, and even if you have Pet Insurance, that doesn’t cover everything. The weather puts people off of walking dogs. They make a mess in the house before they are trained, leave fur all over the place, chew things up, and generally impart their odours into the once clean and fragrant house.

Even a non-pedigree animal has to have a lot of money spent on it on a monthly basis. Some need grooming regularly too.

Meanwhile, the once-excited new pet owners are busy on Zoom calls, or have been summoned back to their former office or workplace once the Pandemic restrictions ceased to operate. That cuddly pup, cute cat, or fluffy rabbit has become a money pit that has to be left to its own devices for eight to ten hours a day, and those new owners begin to resent their new pet, wondering why the hell they thought it was a good idea to get one.

Then comes the war in Ukraine, the global financial crisis, increased fuel bills, rampant inflation, and huge hikes in the price of petrol and diesel. Mortgage rates are set to increase, and money is tight even for those with well-paid jobs.

What happens next is that animal shelters and rescue centres are inundated with unwanted dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals. The Pandemic Pet owners are even resorting to giving away their supposedly beloved pets via Facebook, or selling them cheap to anyone with the cash who will collect them. Some owners are crowdfunding to cover the cost of operations on their pets, or in the worse case scenario having perfectly healthy animals put to sleep because they can’t be bothered with them any longer.

I know this doesn’t apply to everyone who bought a pet during this period, but you only have to look at animal shelter websites to realise there is a huge issue to deal with.

Let’s hope if we have another pandemic, people who didn’t want a pet before don’t go rushing into thinking having one will change their lives.

Because ultimately, it is the poor animals who will suffer.

Green Energy: The Sad Truth

Most of us are on board with the need to turn away from fossil fuels, and to use carbon-free energy sources. Wind-power, Solar panels, Electric cars, and many other alternatives.

But we have to look beyond the hype if we want to face facts, and see the truth.

*A conventional wind turbine needs more fossil-fuel energy to build it than it will save in its 20-year average lifetime. Even more so if it is situated out at sea.

*Solar panels need to be constructed of metal that has to be fabricated in industrial complexes dependent on fossil fuel power. Outside of very sunny locations, they rarely generate enough power to recoup the carbon footprint of making and installing them.

*Electric cars run on batteries that need metals, chemicals, and minerals extracted from the ground using child labour and intensive industrial manufacture. The body panels are made in the same way as fuel-powered cars, and the batteries only last for 7-10 years, after which they cannot currently be recycled. The electricity needed to charge them every day has to be generated, and that is currently done mostly using fossil fuel systems.

They are all great ideas, but unless someone comes up with a miraculous alternative power source, they are simply a smokescreen.

Not my facts, and not a conspiracy theory. Just the hard truth. We have reaped what we have sown.

How many solar panels can you eat?

Another great post from Jim. Whatever your views on environmental issues, remember that we cannot eat trees or solar panels. There has to be more balance.

Jim Webster

It’s interesting that both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have spoken out against covering farmland with solar panels. You do wonder if finally, people are beginning to wake up a little.

Personally I think that, whether he intended to or not, Putin has created a watershed in history, but not perhaps in the way he intended.

If we go back to the start of the century, Ed Miliband put the green levies on energy. But at the same time a lot of other things were put in place, all nicely set ten, twenty or even thirty years ahead. Politicians were kicking unexploded bombs into the long grass secure in the knowledge that by the time these things happened and the public started feeling the pain, they’d be long retired on a good pension and their successors could take the flak.

When they were announced, the ban on the installation of…

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Not Ukraine

When there are photos or videos of civilians and children being bombed and killed in Ukraine, the world is horrified.

‘Horrific’. ‘Inhuman’. ‘Criminal’. ‘War crime’. ‘Unjustified’. Just some of the headlines.

But when Israel attacks Gaza today, bombing civilian targets, killing civilians including children, and terrorising others in their homes, the media is completely silent.

Not a word. Not a single news report so far.

So do Palestinian children not matter? Are they not white enough? Is it because Russia is not bombing them?

Look at the photos, and decide for yourself.

Israel is no better than Russia, but you won’t hear that on the BBC.

Bad Taste, Huge Expense

As Boris falls from grace, insiders helping his demise are leaking information about his time as Prime Minister. I found this online, about the expensive refurbishments he authorised in his accommodation at Number Ten Downing Street. (Chosen by his wife, Carrie) He got a friend to pay for it, and rewarded him politically, but this is just a snippet of the excess he enjoyed as Britain was locked down, and many were losing their jobs. This was the finished living room, which I think you will agree is an eyesore after Carrie’s choices.

Estimates vary, but it is believed they spent almost £200,000 on the 4-bed flat, including the cost for decorators and installers. That equates to 21,000 hours work at the minimum wage for many people in this country. Almost 2.5 years of their salary.

It would give me a headache to sit in this awful living room.

Some of the individual item costs are unbelievable. Boris and Carrie obviously have no idea how ‘ordinary people’ live.

Close to £80,000 for the items in the living room, not including the cost of the trade work.

That rug alone cost £7,000.

One sofa cost £7,500, and they bought two. That was without the cost of the fabric covering it, at almost £2,900.

One armchair, in matching fabric. £4,200.

A mirror, (which he doesn’t use to comb his hair) £3,000.

One lamp, plus lampshade, £8,500.

I could go on. But it makes me feel ill to do so. You can read the invoice, and that is just a ‘Part Invoice’.

This from a man who thought trained nurses were ‘paid handsomely’ at less than £40,000 a year.

A man who said that railway workers earned ‘too much money’ at £41,000 a year. (Including overtime and unsocial shift pay)

A man who said that the minimum wage of £9.50 an hour was ‘more than enough to live on’.

Is it any wonder that they call his wife ‘Carrie Antionette’?

It it any wonder that he has now been forced to resign?

Not to me it is not. It is long overdue.

Is There Still A War In Ukraine?

Reblogging this from my other blog because I want more people to see it.

REDFLAGFLYING

I know, silly question.

But if you had been watching all the main news channels here for the past week, you might be forgiven for thinking that Ukraine and Russia had called it quits.

Boris Johnson, lies in parliament, resignation, who wants his job. Big news. Bigger than a war that might escalate across Europe, even become a world war?

Well the mainstream media obviously thinks so. Even the Wimbledon tennis and Women’s football took precedence.

Then the former prime minister of Japan was assassinated.

But they had to cut back from that to the ‘Breaking News’ that Keir Starmer was not going to be charged with any breach of lockdown rules.

Ukraine? Nothing. I sat through a few main bulletins hoping to be told what was going on, but all I got were updates on who was going to stand for election as Conservative leader, then some lightweight stuff…

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Guest Post: Gavin Marriott On Scottish Independence

In 2014, Scotland was allowed to conduct a referendum to become an independent country. Over 55% of eligible voters chose to vote to stay in the United Kingdom. But the issue never went away, and the current leader of the devolved Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced another referendum, which will take place in October 2023. In this short guest post, Gavin considers the issues around the defence of both an independent Scotland, and the rest of Great Britain, should the vote be different next time.

Scottish independence and defence. Gavin Marriott

Due to an event during my time in the London Ambulance Service in the early 80s, I have a close association with a small part of the UK armed forces.
In 2014, I was their guest for the ceremonies for the beginning of the WW1 centenary in London and Belgium, and I did a trip around Scotland. I have Scottish blood in me. The bagpipes do something positive to my cardiovascular system.

But all this coincided with the Scottish independence vote, and I had to be careful raising discussion with arch rivals literally sitting either side of me. And there were times you could have cut the air above me with a blunt knife.

With Brexit and other events, the independence vote is on the agenda again. I will not discuss the pros nor cons or even contemplate a view. But in this discussion, I want to focus on an aspect ignored in the consequence of independence, and that is Defence.

It is more than a case of giving the Scots Guards to Scotland. Those guardsmen are mainly English or from the commonwealth anyway. Firstly, an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the EU & NATO. To not join either would be unthinkable. But joining would take years with criteria and hoops to meet – like having a 2% of GDP spend on its military.

The Scottish Parliament has made it abundantly clear, the Trident nuclear submarine base on the Clyde would leave Scotland. These are Britain’s major defence deterrent. There is nowhere else in Britain with the deep water to house theses subs and to shift them to America would have to be considered at a cost of multi billions and Scottish job losses.
The same with RAF Lossiemouth which has Britain’s entire maritime patrol and early warning aircraft stationed there. There are also British radar installations which would need moving.

So why are the subs, aircraft and radar based in Scotland? Because Scotland is closest to the threat of Russia (North Sea, Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic) and would be the first attacked. It is sparsely populated and would be easy pickings. Scotland is 32% of the UK landmass and has a coastline of over 10,000 miles. So its in Scotland’s favour for Britain to have these facilities in Scotland. It allows any threat to be spotted far away and intercepted in time (and Russia often tests this).
Scotland not having these assets would affect its NATO membership and Scotland not being part of NATO would leave it open to a Russian takeover. That would threaten England. So there could be more tension than football rivalry.

With major UK bases in Scotland and Scotland building warships, they gain a lot financially from UK’s combined military. Also what about the Scots that make up 15% of the UK military yet only have 8% of the UK population. What would there be for them in Scotland?

Look at a country with a similar population, New Zealand. We have no fighter aircraft, only 2 warships and only 2 regular infantry battalions. But we are in close cooperation with Australia and we do have 4 of the latest maritime patrol planes. Scotland would need more than 4 (The RAF have 9). Belgium and Netherlands now have a joint military squadron and the British and French aircraft carriers are compatible. Could Scotland be independent with an English or American military alliance. It would have to keep the subs for that.

So could Scotland go it alone??

Different Sunday Musings In June

I have written about the small heatwave previously, and also outlined the progress on renewing my driving licence. So this week, my musings are taking on a different form.
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Starting on the 21st, we have a series of rail strikes commencing. The unions representing the train drivers have come under great criticism for balloting for this strike, which over 80% of those drivers who voted are in favour of. The attacks on them are based on what they currently earn. Including overtime, train drivers can earn between £40,000 and £55,000 a year in the UK. Different operating companies pay different rates, and also have different contracts. Depending on the shifts worked, and the duration of those shifts, it is true that train drivers can earn as much as qualified nurses and teachers.

But I see nothing wrong with that. Why shouldn’t they?

They do a highly-trained and sometimes difficult job, and are often responsible for the safety of hundreds of passengers, driving trains at high speed between British cities. One of the politicians who has been most critical of the strike action earns £88,000 a year by being a member of parliament. In the last calendar year, he also claimed £190,000 in ‘expenses’, enjoys long holiday breaks when parliament closes, and is able to do a second job by being on the board of a private company that pays him around £100,000 a year to turn up at meetings ‘occasionally’. Yet he thinks the person driving the train taking him to his two jobs is earning too much money. Disgraceful.

All workers should read this quote.

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With the cost of living crisis seriously affecting well over half the households in this country, we are hearing about qualified nurses having to get free food from Food Banks to survive the rising costs of power, petrol, and groceries in supermarkets. Some old people are afraid to turn on their heating when they are cold, and many children are having to eat cheap food that is nutritionally poor. Yet the government politicians see nothing wrong in that, simply blaming it on the Pandemic, or the war in Ukraine. As the rich get richer than ever before in history, we are told to wear extra clothes when we are cold, and that nothing is the fault of government policy.

I am not a religious man, but this quote from someone who is sums up the blatant hypocrisy of those uncaring politicians on their huge salaries and expenses.

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I hope you a have a peaceful and happy Sunday. And I send my best wishes to all the fathers out there who might be enjoying a celebration of Father’s Day. But let’s not forget those fathers who will be spending the day alone or unloved.

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Worrying Film Censorship

As everyone who reads my blog knows, I am not a religious person. However, I believe that everyone should have a right to their own beliefs, unless those beliefs interfere with others, or cause harm to people. I know that many religious people get comfort from their faith, whatever that faith might be.

As a result, I rarely comment on religion on this blog.

But today, I feel the need to talk about something that does concern me.

On release in cinemas around the UK is a British film, ‘Lady In Heaven’. This is an historical epic written by a Shia Muslim cleric, Sheikh Yasser al-Habib of Kuwait, and it concerns the story of Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.

As a film fan, I confess that it is not a film that interests me that much. However, I suspected that in modern multi-cultural Britain, it could find a large audience. It was actually taken up for distribution by Cineworld, one of the largest multiplex cinema chains in this country.

So far, just a normal film release.

Then a cinema in Yorkshire was surrounded by an angry mob of local British Muslims who objected to the film being shown. The staff were threatened, and the producer of the film received death threats. Despite the presence of police officers, no arrests were made, and the banner-waving and chanting mob was allowed to continue to make their protest outside the location.

That’s the right of free speech in a democracy.

Then Cineworld decided not to show the film, in any of its cinemas in Yorkshire. Perhaps not in any of their cinemas nationwide. They issued a press release saying that they were concerned for the safety of the staff, disruption of performances, and damage to buildings. Varous people involved in making the film continue to receive death threats, and still no arrests have been made.

One of the main reasons why people who were not born in Britain were eager to come and live here is because we have a tradition of religious tolerance. But then some of them seek to undermind our tolerant society by telling others what they can and cannot watch at the cinema. And they are allowed to do this, by our own laws.

To my mind, such behaviour will only increase racial and relgious hatred. It will give ammunition to the Far Right and Neo-Nazi groups in the UK, and perhaps generate ‘revenge’ attacks against Muslim communities in this country.

Such protests causing a film not to be shown to those who want to pay to see it are not acceptable to me. They are the beginnings of a slippery slope of censorship based on political correctness and mob rule that has no place in a modern society.

With that in mind, here is the trailer for the film that they do not want you to see.

Feel free to issue me with a death threat.